Monday, November 29, 2010

Trouble With a Capital T

And it doesn't rhyme with P! Anyone who can name that reference btw, will truly be showing their age or at the very least, their time spent watching far too many musicals as a child  ;)  I've been doing a bit of reading today, and wow was there a TON to read and go over. It all started from this forum posting, and I actually went over and read the blog post and comments today. Exhausting work let me tell ya!

So I'm feeling the need to address this issue from a parental point of view. As a resident still of SL, the concept of bringing teens into the grid is.... monumentally scary. I remember the first few times I ventured in, my daughters wanted to see what mommy was up to. Those were some very trepidating moments and I quickly shoo'ed my kids off to do something else, because apparently I had landed at a sim that was erm, yeah. I'm not a prude by any means, but my first thoughts about SL were not flattering. And all because I wanted a decent pair of jeans.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), I happened to run into an old ex-bf there, who helped me get around SL and away (sorta) from the sex stuff. Well, that is until I visited his sim. Anyways, moving right along... And I actually settled down and started learning how to build. That's when my kids were allowed to see what mom was up to. Otherwise, SL was verboten to them.

Now, warp to one lonely day on InWorldz, on my region in fact, back when there were only 5 people online (and we got excited over that fact). My oldest daughter had asked to check out what mom was up to. So I let her make an account and I told her where to log into, on to my region. So there she was, happily checking out her inventory after I gave her a bunch of stuff. And I had to run over to the old IDI at that time. So I told her to stay put. While I was gone, someone showed up on my region and was testing building stuff. So she headed over by the male avatar, said "Hi, what are you building?". Nothing else. Nothing mean. The guy was nice at first, and they chatted for a few minutes when he asked her where she lived. Now, some of us would not think too much of that question (although personally, anyone who would ask me that within the first 5 mins wouldn't usually like my answer but I digress), however, my daughter decided it best to be very vague and said, "The United States". Well, kudos to her, she's not nearly as much of a smart ass as I am  :)  The guy got his shirt in a ruffle and asked what kind of answer was that. And she got distressed at that and asked me what she should say to him. That's when I tp'ed back and was nice and explained she's my daughter and he went off on me. I won't repeat what he said here, but it was not nice. And it was in full view of my daughter. Sadly, there are people in the world like that.

Now, I don't believe anyone should raise my kids but me. I'm kinda firm on that one. And it's not an easy job, it's a lot easier than most single mom's have it, as I'm home all day. And I completely understand that need for a parent to have their "adult" time. Whether that means being a fairy, a furry, a whatever you want, you want to do it without your kids being around pestering you for this or that. Whether it's just an hour away from the rat race, or after they've gone to bed, you need that time. That time to remember you're not someone's dad or mom, that you're not the wife/husband to someone else, that you DO have yourself. You can't lose touch with that, or everything sort of falls apart from there.

When we, as adults, agree to play in games such as WoW or GW or Lord of the Rings Online, or any other MMORPG, we sort of take it for granted there will be kids there. And we comport ourselves appropriately due to that fact. Ok, a good majority of us adults do anyways. Or at the very least we keep our adult side to private im's with other "known" adults. If you have a guild, you can set the terms, if you want kids in it or not, and kick them if you find out a member is a kid. Or join an adults only guild. So there is a way to keep away from them in a very limited way. Was not uncommon for me to keep my local chats off in public so I wouldn't have to deal with the endless crap spewed out when I was in any of those aforementioned games.

Where am I headed with all this? It's a danger as a parent, just monitoring your kids in RL. Knowing what or who is around your area (anyone done a recent registered sex offender search in their area lately??) where your kids play every day, go back and forth to school, and are out and about daily is a challenge in and of itself. How are you supposed to monitor them in a virtual world that in some ways, is MORE expansive than their real world you allow them access to? How do you rely on knowing that the people they are interacting with are not exactly the SAME people you are trying to protect them from in the real world?!

My girls have accounts with Disney's Club Penguin. I pay for this every month for them to fully enjoy it. Why? After having read through Disney's safety structure and guidelines, I felt my kids would be safe there. That Disney had gone above and beyond making sure kids would be safe there. They monitor the chats, various chat types are removed, and they are heavy on the ban hammer for anything inappropriate. So I happily pay $6 a month for each account for them. They do not have Facebook (although my oldest keeps begging for it), they do not have MySpace, they do not have personal blogs. The internet is not a toy. It's full of all the same dangers as the real world are and in some cases, far more so depending on the venue.

Now, back to the purpose of this blog. If I, as a parent, were informed by the powers that (are now seemingly lacking to) be that my teen was to be moved to the adult oriented main grid, and their security was a spotty "age verification" process, you can bet as a parent I would be livid. And their accounts terminated. I'm sorry, but no one has the right to just decide for me as a parent that my child is old enough to be migrated from one place to another without my say so. My kids already KNOW how to avoid the age problem when it comes to registrations and so on. But my job, as a parent, is to make sure I know where they are. And that includes the internet.
I would have to say, I'm actually angry at the lack of foresight in this disaster in the makings. And I don't even have a teen being migrated. I'm angry on behalf of the parents who have no idea, or who have been blinded by their kid's dazzling gloss over of what SL is. I'm angry for the adults who now are being forced to change their ways and limit themselves after years of having their own adult time. I'm angry at once again, corporate making the decision without listening to their user base. AGAIN. I'm angry that this is being done to "conserve" costs, rather than modifying the business model that obviously failed, now it will be foisted on the adults to deal with what they do not want to. I'm angry that kids who don't want to, will now be forced to be around a bunch of cranky adults. I'm angry that the first time some perv goes after one of those kids, some kid is going to get hurt. I'm angry that the first time some adult makes a kid angry, they will level charges at that adult and their life will be ruined, and not just in a virtual environment. Overall, I'm just plain angry over this idea.

I know there's lots of tinfoil ideas out there on why this move. But at this point, I don't care. It's a bad one. It ranks right up there with some doozies I've seen other corporates do, but I seriously think this one takes the cake in my book. It's reckless, stupid, haphazard and full of half-baked spin.

I have this life sized image of a very jaded board of directors facing the front of a sterile conference room, and there is little R2D2 with his flickering image of Princess Leia with this message playing: "The more you tighten your grip LL, the more regions will slip through your fingers." This causes hysterical laughter to erupt in the room and they all pat themselves on the back and mumblings can be heard regarding "the lemmings" and "the sheep have been herded". Fade to black.

Til I see you all InWorldz... give a big squishy hug to your kids. And your pets. And your stuffed animals. And wow I need to stop now!


  1. This is another example of typical Linden Lab knee-jerk, arbitrary, don't-think-ahead, half-baked, ignore-the-consequences policy.

    They could have done better. They could have decided, "We're taking down the teen grid, but we will be setting up teens-only islands on the main grid, and teens will be allowed only on those islands. Adults will not be allowed on those islands. So in effect, we will be integrating teen concepts into the main grid, with the same safety measures."

    Of course, they would have no guarantees that adults wouldn't masquerade as teens... but that's the drawbacks of having an "adult" grid. One is not to imagine for a moment that there aren't a large number of teens on SL already.

    There is no perfect solution-- but there sure are better solutions than this mess LL has yet again foisted off onto the grid.

  2. In a perfect world, we would have maturity verification instead of age verification. By maturity, I mean being responsible and in control of one's emotions.

    If a teen is as mature as an adult in that context, they would be allowed in. If an adult is irresponsible and has horrible emotional control will be shown the door.

    But we live in the real world and not a perfect world, so that isn't a viable solution. I wouldn't call Linden Lab's solution viable either, since several kids have gotten themselves age-verified using Elvis Presley's personal details.

  3. @Way - Yeah there's never a perfect solution, but this just boggles my brain!

    @Zaub - hehe I've often thought that myself! Alas, if only we had a utopia where there was no such thing as money, and everyone was weighed by maturity levels!

  4. This is, by far, the dumbest thing they've come up with. Second to that is doubling the price for edus and nonprofits, which means that many of the educational institutions that would've sponsored the younger teens will likely be gone.

    Good gods, if they want to terminate business, why don't they just do it instead of trying to drive us all away? How stupid is that?

  5. Oh, another thing. Notice how they are avoiding the idea of changing teen profiles so we know if we're talking to an underage resident. There are plenty of kids who want to "experiment" and get involved with an adult...just because they can't get on mature/adult regions, that isn't going to stop them from carrying on right in IMs.

    IRL we know if we're talking to a kid, most of the time. Online, we don't; even for those of us who have learned the "cues", there are always those kids who know how to talk just like an adult in text chat. What's to stop one of them from coming onto an innocent adult? That's right, I said "innocent adult", because, after all, the vast majority of us wouldn't go there with ANY kid. The kid may initiate it, but it'll be the adult that pays, even though we had no way of knowing they were underage.

    Every single person who claimed not to understand what the fuss was all about were ignoring the fact that a lot of sex can happen in IMs, without poseballs, and on a G-rated sim. Hell - the adult could be on a mature sim and the kid on a G. I guess now we'll all have to ask the other person to join us on a mature or adult sim just so we can make sure we're flirting with an adult.

    Heck. That won't even stop it; as it's been said, kids have age verified with Elvis Presley's details. Right now, anyone can go on a mature parcel unless someone has age verify turned on, so I'm wondering how they're going to stop kids?

    They have definitely gone off the deep end this time.

  6. This is a little (well a lot) off topic, is there anything that can be done to prevent creation in InWorldz of the forced rape and involutary slavery sims that exist in SL?

  7. Reference: "Ya Got Trouble" from the Music Man. Now listening to "Not Afraid" by Eminem, because age is just a measure of time and not a state of mind. :D

  8. @Marie - I understand the reasoning to protect their privacy in that manner. It would simply make them targets. However, there are better ways to implement the entire idea as Way suggested. This is just becoming a really painful train wreck to watch.

    @Allod - I have an issue with the concept of "forced" anything on the internet. I'm sorry, the internet is all about choice. There is ALWAYS the big red X to log out. There is the choice to type in where you log in at. There is the choice to remove the items from your avatar. There is the choice to mute. There is the choice to ban. There is the choice to make an alt. There are many choices to be made, that are FAR easier to make on the internet than they are in RL. The vw's do not just log you in and force anyone to be party to something they do not wish to be part of. And no matter what, you can ALWAYS log off. There is no way for anyone to disable that functionality from the end user.

    That is my personal opinion btw ;) Maybe I missed something in my SL education, or maybe I'm just too strong willed myself to ever go through anything like that (which is a whole nother story with me) again, but fact is, there is ALWAYS an out. And in the virtual environment, that is more true than ever.

    Maybe there's some information you can shed there as to how it can be "forced" or how it works that I'm unaware of.

    @Chrystophur - Age ain't nuttin' but a number ;)

  9. @Allod - And that's genuine btw, I'm truly perplexed on how anything could be "forced" onto another avatar. So information would be helpful!

  10. @Elenia, I completely agree there besides all the "forced" anything I have seen has been just fantasy roleplay anyway for the most part and I see nothing wrong in fantasy roleplay between two consenting adults.

    Of course I have seen cases of what could only really be called emotional abuse but I have seen that happen without the context of such as well so not having it wont prevent that.

  11. Allod: "This is a little (well a lot) off topic, is there anything that can be done to prevent creation in InWorldz of the forced rape and involutary slavery sims that exist in SL?"

    On my webpage I have a quote, one I wrote myself, that sums up my opinion:

    "Censorship is not of itself a bad thing. It's the glue that keeps society from degrading into chaos. A lack of censorship brings anarchy. Those who fail to censor themselves or be censored-- are sociopaths."

    A second quote reads:
    "True freedom is not that which is ungoverned, for that which is ungoverned inevitably infringes on the freedom of others."

    We currently live in a world in which more and more people are coming to the opinion that "everything is okay so long as it's adults and consenting". Then society pays for the consequences of the foolish decisions of those adults. Sure, they have the "right" to make their decisions no matter what... then all of us foot the bill.

    There are some things that are "bad"... no matter whose personal opinion is being currently foisted on the environment. There are some things that we, as rational, thinking, balanced human beings should look at and say, "That is wrong. It is obscene. It is bad in its very concept and should not be tolerated under any circumstance, anywhere for any reason."

    We have taken that position with pedophilia. But then society says, "Yes, pedophilia is wrong, and photos of it are wrong, but if we PAINT PICTURES of it... well that's ARTWORK!"

    No. Absolutely not. Wrong is wrong. If people cannot see that painting a picture of something that gross is just as perverted as the act itself... then our society is ready to fall-- as hedonistic societies have consistently fell throughout history.

    A society without ethics or morals is no society. It is anarchy. It is chaos. And anarchy and chaos-- no matter what individuals may shout in the streets-- always results in eventual destruction.

    Which leads to another quote on that webpage:

    "There are always consequences for actions. Sometimes they are slow in coming... but they do eventually come. It is better to change one's own path and have no regrets, than to continue on a wrong course and have such change forced upon us. The methods of consequence are not as gentle as our own.

    When we fail to realize this truth... when we believe that as "adults" we can make our own decisions based on our own all-wise, all-knowing intellect, without attention to history or thought of the impact of our actions upon others-- then we bring consequences of such foolishness not only upon ourselves, but upon those around us.

    Or as a comedian once stated:
    "Some people are so open-minded their brains fall out."

  12. i agree with you wayfinder. A society or community without those rules is no longer a society. If we let go it gets worse and worse. People will stretch the limits until the society cease to exist. I think most people feel more at ease with normal, healthy morality guidelines. (And im not speaking about the catholic church guidlines here ;) And the society will flourish more without perverts. Dont let go too much...

  13. I have been lead to believe (all word of mouth) that in SL, there are Gor sims where avi's can be captured and permanently enslaved to the point where the only way out is to abandon the avi. This could include collar stripping, etc. Obviously, the process would begin something like the avi agreeing to the rp thinking (or being mislead into thinking) it standard (as if there were standard) Gor.

    I am trying to verify the existence of these sims. Obviously also, I am showing my noobie colors and this may be examining problems that do not exist.

  14. I remember hearing those rumors, I even checked out some of the regions myself. Fact is, you can not be forced to do a damn thing you don't want to on the internet. Not like someone can hold a gun to your head and say "you're now permanently enslaved and have no choices!". People make other's think they have these all special powers to go beyond what normal software can really do and their prey falls for it. Seriously think about it... the sub wants to be dominated, the dom tells them they have all these "abilities" and the sub believes it. They then spread this all over "I can't leave he/her... I'll have to abandon my avi *sob*".

    Fact of the matter is no one can make you do diddly that you don't want to do to start with. There is no special collar that once detached still controls your avatar every time you still log in. There's no viewer that will not allow you to log off or select where to log in at, and if there were, well just use another viewer. And if you don't want to hear what someone says, and they are abusive, mute them and AR them.

  15. True enough Elenia i agree. The problem is, and I have heard this from the horses mouth, its the new residents. If u are new and have no experience what so ever from these worlds and issues you can believe it. Even more if u really are an insecure person in the first place.

  16. Digging into the BDSM and RLV "life styles" has been an education in itself. The stories and rumors are quite diverse and frankly astounding. Even if only partially true, they are something from which we should protect our children in any way we can.

    In any case, the entire topic maybe something that needs its own thread and probably one that is owned outside our dear Ele's thought train. (GaiusJulius, perhaps you can take over this.)

  17. Interesting thread, for mer personally, I never understood the slave/BDSM scene and why someone would be willing to spend hours and hours, all their on-line time they pay for under someone else's control and whims, even "caged" whipped and bound up.
    I almost have to wonder what happened to them in childhood that they seem to feel this need for "punishment" and being a sub under some "master's" thumb.
    Ive even run into a few who said "I cant talk to you, my master doesn't allow me to talk to anyone" and I'm going what the heck????


  18. Wayfinder said

    "We have taken that position with pedophilia. But then society says, "Yes, pedophilia is wrong, and photos of it are wrong, but if we PAINT PICTURES of it... well that's ARTWORK!"

    No, any depictions, even drawings, simulated on a coputer or otherwise is illegal and is not under the "artwork" category.
    Jeff Koons does some very controversial art, some like it some dont, those who dont are not required to buy the pieces or attend a showing of them.

    "On my webpage I have a quote"
    "a second quote reads"
    "Which leads to another quote on that webpage:"

    Quotes are just fine and dandy, but quotes, like any other personal opinion by someone that the quoter is mirroring is something everyone has.

    Probably the most abused and misused thing around are "quotes" used for an agenda, and one which is used a lot to slam other people's ideas just under the personal attacks not allowed wire enough to get away with it.

    For instance, you could quote someone who says "gays are abnormal and need mental help", since you would be "quoting" someone else, it just goes under the wire where if you actually came out and said that in your own words directly in a discussion, would be a "personal attack" or "hate speech."

    "Wrong is wrong."

    There is very little automatic "wrong" in life, other than murder and torture/slavery, every culture has it's own ideas of right and wrong, it varies by culture, time and location. In India cows are sacred, here we slaughter them brutally, here, dogs are revered, in some countries they are nothing more than a handy meal and are brutally killed, often by torture to make the meat "tastier."
    When the so called "pilgrims" came to the new world, they considered the natives here to be vermin, and to be exterminated, which was what they did systematically all but wiped them out and took their land. They felt right, justified and celebrated, that was one of the reasons we have "Thanksgiving" unfortunately.
    So what is "right" and what is "wrong" is not set in stone by any means, and it evolves and changes over time and place.
    In Islam the woman are treated horribly, they execute people for minor "crimes" that is a culture and religious difference too.

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  21. I removed the 3 repeats Jigs. Didn't want you to think I was censoring, they were just the same comment for most part :)

  22. Oops, sorry about that Elenia!!
    I actually received an error on each and didn't think they had made it, and they didn't show up.
    It was something about "http length" and it had a long url, must have been some blogspot hiccup so thanks for fixing that for us.

  23. What it said was:

    "414 URI request too long" followed by a long url, mystery to me!